A Haitian-born West Point cadet's emotional graduation photo went viral

West Point 2SGT. RYAN NOYES/U.S. ARMYSecond Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache at West Point’s graduation ceremony.

Graduation is an amazing, emotional experience, and a photograph of a West Point cadet who was overcome with emotion over how far he had come is a moving testament ot this terrific accomplishment. 

Second Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache graduated at the top of his class in physics from West Point on May 21, and an Army photographer documented the dramatic moment.

“At this moment, I was overwhelmed with emotions,” Idrache explained in a comment posted to the Instagram. “Three things came to mind and led to those tears. The first is where I started … The second is where I am … The third is my future.” 

Idrache was born in Haiti, and he was working in Port-au-Prince and speaking only basic English just seven years ago. In a press release from the army, Idrache explained that he was first inspired to join the army when he saw U.S. forces conduct humanitarian missions in Haiti. He wanted to be a pilot — an unlikely career path for someone with his background, he admitted. 

“People where I’m from don’t grow up to be pilots right?” he said. “Like they don’t dream of flying a helicopter, that’s not something you do. You don’t just say I’m going to be a pilot and make it happen. There’re no aviation, there’re no helicopters, no flight schools. There’re none of that.”

Idrache, though, made it happen. In July he’ll attend the Army Aviation Center for Excellence in Fort Rucker, Alabama, furthering his goal to be a pilot.

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